Imerys Half Marathon 2017

Report by Hana

The week before this race I decided to pick up my mileage due to this “Old Croc” entering a trail marathon at the end of the month. Tuesday I run 6 miles before work and Wednesday as the weather is glorious I decide to take the train to work at Camborne and then run the 15 miles home at the end of my working day via Four Lanes. This run included a few Cornish Hills and very tired legs at the end of it. Maybe a rest day or two would be wise before the Imerys Half Marathon, so on Saturday Julie and I walk the St Michaels way from Penzance to St Ives, 10 beautiful miles with a couple miles on top walking to and from the station. Even large doses of red wine aren’t going to fix sore feet and aching calf muscles.

I give my legs get an evening of rest, but this is followed by a disturbed sleep due to “Old Croc” thermostatic control issues. My alarm sounds at 06:30 on race day and with eyes that don’t want to open I crawl out of bed, shower, then consume my usual porridge before cleaning the bathroom, hanging out some washing and driving to St Austell. No wonder my hair is grey and I fall asleep in front of the TV in the evenings.

Parking at the race HQ of St Austell College is plentiful, but poor “Sydney Skoda” has to traverse numerous speed humps in order to reach the top parking area where altitude sickness is a possibility. It’s free so I shouldn’t complain and the car parking Marshalls are doing a great job. I now need to negotiate lots of steps to reach the registration area inside the college building.

There are two areas, one for pre-registered runners and the other for those registering on the day. I bump into Helen D who has decided to run today, and she produces her race trainers which to describe as soggy is an understatement. She wore them yesterday checking out the route of “The Meet your Max” event and it would appear that it was rather WET! I won’t be running that one but I may pay a guest visit as a “MARSHALL”

Having collected my race number I decide to check out the toilets in the pre-registered entrant’s part of the college. I find a room with 4 cubicles and a short queue. They are clean; they have plenty of toilet rolls and are vastly better than the outdoor toilet vestibules often provided by other venues. I then wander over to the other room where the “on the day” entrants have to register and I find yet another room with similar toileting facilities of the same clean standard. I have no need to go off-piste to avoid queues, so all is good in the bladder department.

I’m not feeling very organised today. I left home in a rush and so didn’t have time to make my usual flask of coffee for post-race hydration. I can’t decide whether to wear sun glasses or not, or should I wear my “IQ” reducer instead. I’ve already decided that this race should be classed as “Getting some mileage in my legs” and not a race, which has led to one important thing………I have no pre-race NERVES!

I chat with numerous fellow runners who I have befriended over the past 10 years and end up chatting with “IS” from Bodmin road runners, when a male approaches and says “BAGGAGE”.

Is this a statement of fact or a question I wonder?

Or is he referring to me?

Now I spend Monday to Friday dealing with people who are physically inept at forming a coherent sentence, so I do my usual pause, say nothing, raise my eyebrows before saying “and”.

“IS” is ahead of the game though, and points the male in the direction of the baggage drop off point. Is it only me, but sentences seem to be so old fashion these days?

The sun is out, grey clouds are also scuttling across the sky but more importantly it isn’t raining. I opt for normal spectacles, no “IQ” reducer and scrape my fringe back in my traditional “Teletubbies” style. Today is a T-shirt and shorts day; hurrah……….hats and gloves can stay in the bag.

10:00 start time is now approaching, so I gather with everyone else outside whilst a few females perform a race warm up to music on the grass. Running 13 bl—dy miles is enough of a warm up for me, without expending unnecessary energy jiggling ones part to disco movements where there is every possibility I could actually put some part of my aging body into a position that it really isn’t meant to go into.

Pre-race briefing takes place, but I’m still chin wagging with the gathering crowd. I suddenly remember to activate my Garmin and for once it locks onto whatever satellite is passing overhead. “BANG”……..either we have a sniper on the loose, or the race has just started. We are off on the lap and half of the college building before we head out on a footpath towards the road that leads to Scredda.

Now I’m very bad a starting races with the usual problem of rushing off faster than is sensible for one so old, but today I’m chilled and I run at a sensible steady pace, which even includes overtaking a few runners ahead of me. My legs are protesting slightly, my usual irritating to others cough has come to the surface, but otherwise all’s good.

We soon bear left onto the narrow footpath that takes us out of the college grounds and the pace reduces to either a slow run or walk. I’m more than happy to walk, but the speed picks up and a tarmac surface that leads to Scredda is soon under foot.

At Scredda we are directed left onto another path and initially it appears to be the same path as in previous years, but no, this one goes downwards for a lot longer and I am in unfamiliar territory. I mention this to Diane R (marathon entrant) who is running alongside me and she seems to think this is the normal route, but the path now runs alongside the B3274 Bodmin road, and into the grounds of “Wheal Martyn”.

This is fantastic. I’ve never been here before, and the grounds are neat, well-tended and look like a great place to visit with children. I’ll have to wait for grandchildren to arrive and hopefully that won’t be any time soon.

The path takes us past a water wheel then up some steps that climb even higher, then through a dark tunnel where I have to bend slightly for fear of knocking my head. Once out the other side we are at the edge of a HUGE working clay pit, where it would be tempting to stop and look over the edge, but then again I suffer from an irrational fear of heights, so best not.

As I continue on my way, I keep hearing marshals shouting, “Come on Hana” I think this is strange as I don’t seem to recognise any of them. Maybe they have read my race reports, seen my photo, and I am a Cornish GP celebrity? I smile at them hoping my expressive eyebrows are subdued due to excessive exertion and run on by. I’m puzzled though as to why they are shouting my name. Then with the gap between me and whoever is behind me widening I realise they aren’t shouting “Hana”, no they are shouting “Hannah” hence the confusion.

I have no “man in lycra” today to take my mind off the hills and stony terrain; instead I have a young male in fluorescent top and nodding head to occupy my mind. His head bobs around like “Churchill” the nodding dog in the adverts. It’s not quite as pronounced as Paula Radcliff but he’s doing a good job at it. We reach a water station and “nodding head male” grabs a cup of water then exclaims that he seems spill most of his water and miss his mouth. We then approach the “Sponge station” and he asks me “what’s that?”

I say “sponge station” then have images of him being really disappointed that it’s not the “Victoria” variety.

As usual I decline both water energy drink and sponges. The air temperature is perfect and my body is coping without taking on liquid so I waste no time stopping in order that the drinks offered make it into my mouth.

The route takes us up high in the clay workings with fantastic views over Indian Queens and Fraddon where I can see a very black cloud spilling large volumes of water onto the ground below. As we traverse this path the view then opens out over the sea around St Austell area.

We soon exit the Clay workings, where a marshal dressed as an Oil Sheik or Pharaoh see’s us across the road with a sign saying, “Hope you enjoyed the clay pyramids?”

My legs are still coping really well with the predominantly trail route and I’m even racing down the stony slopes apart from one, where the male ahead takes a short slide in some muddy gloop but remains upright. I decide to slow to a walk for a few yards and then off I go again, with the words “Come on Hannah” still sounding wherever there are supporters lining the route, but Hannah, is still behind Hana!!!

Nice pose Sue

Before too long we are back onto the road and the last two miles of this race. I’m still going at a good pace for me, my lungs are not protesting and I’ve overtaken a couple male runners. I know that there is one last slight grind before the downhill finish, but even that doesn’t trouble me today. Surely this can’t last?

But last it does. I’m now on the narrow footpath that took us out of the college grounds and then the tarmac slope to the finish line. I overtake the male ahead of me, but he is not having it. We are now having a full on sprint to the finish line and sadly I come second in this personal race. What is even better is that having pushed myself really hard, my stomach isn’t trying to force my breakfast onto the ground ahead of me.

I collect my medal, grab some water and a goody bag, and then head for the table of free fruit where I feast upon watermelon, orange segments and pineapple. The sunshine is still out; I grab a cup of tea and chat with Helen, Liz and Revis before the results and presentations. I hear from a source I can’t disclose, that one runner has been disqualified for joining the race on the second lap of the college circuit hoping to not be caught out. How bad is but NO WINE! “Husband who plays golf” will be disappointed. I have a glass trophy to stick on the bookcase, but I rather have something glass to go on the wine rack!

So all in all:

  • Race Venue: Good, but lacks showers.
  • Baggage drop: Brilliant, manned by young girls of about 10 or 12 years who had it working like clockwork.
  • Parking: Plentiful and FREE.
  • Marshals: Brilliant. You could not get lost.
  • TOILETS: College building facilities that were clean, and the queues short.
  • Route: Predominately trail with fewer roads than in previous years. The route has changed and for the better in my eyes with great views and interesting terrain. There are hills, but it wouldn’t be a true Cornish event without them!
  • Will I run it again: I think I probably will, as it’s so good running on trails that I don’t have access to, or wouldn’t normally drive to.